Science

5:03am

Sun February 10, 2013
Environment

Is The Earth Cooking Up A Super Volcano?

Originally published on Sun February 10, 2013 8:38 am

Plosky Tolbachnik volcano erupts in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula on Jan. 6, 2013. It's not a so-called "super volcano," but every million years or so scientists say the Earth burps up volcanoes that can erupt for thousands of years.
Alexander Petrov AP

Every few million years or so, the Earth burps up a gargantuan volcano.

These aren't like volcanoes in our lifetimes; these "super volcanoes" can erupt continuously for thousands of years. While they might be rare, you'd best look out when one hits.

The ash and volcanic gases from these volcanoes can wipe out most living things over large parts of the planet. Michael Thorne, a seismologist at the University of Utah, has some clues about what causes these big eruptions.

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5:05pm

Sat February 9, 2013
Animals

Vultures Beware: Virginia Town Targets Flock Of Unwanted Visitors

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 7:34 am

Turkey vulture droppings can strip paint, kill grass and sicken pets. The droppings also smell really bad.
Holly Kuchera iStockphoto.com

It sounds like a horror story: Every few years, usually in the winter months, residents of the town of Leesburg, Va., come home from work to find their backyards overrun with turkey vultures. Not just a few birds, but hundreds of them. Everywhere.

Lt. Jeff Dube is with the town's police department. For a whole week, he spent every evening driving around town, looking for the latest vulture hotspots.

"They like Leesburg. There's really no rhyme or reason. Every three to five years they come back en mass, like this year, 2- to 300," Dube says.

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4:59am

Sat February 9, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Yes, Cats Know How To Fall On Their Feet. But These Guys Do It Better

Agence Nature Science Source

The champ has met its challenger.

Drop a cat and it will swing its head to a horizontal, rearrange its rear, arch its back, splay its legs, and — amazingly often — land on its feet.

This is what cats do. They're famous for it. But now they have a rival.

This is an aphid.

Aphids spend their days sucking sap from leaves. Those leaves can be high off the ground. "High" of course, being a relative term, but think of it this way: Five feet high up is 381 aphids tall. Which is why things get so dicey when a ladybug comes by.

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1:56pm

Fri February 8, 2013
Your Health

Science of Slumber: How Sleep Affects Your Memory

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 3:55 pm

Transcript

JOE PALCA, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Joe Palca, sitting in for Ira Flatow. If you add it up, we spend a lot of time sleeping, about a third of our lives, actually, and it turns out our bodies don't just power down as we slumber. Research is showing that sleep plays an important role in how our brains process and store the information that we learn throughout the day.

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1:42pm

Fri February 8, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Do We Know How Life Began? Not Really

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 12:41 pm

Egg reassembly machine?
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

The account of evolution we call Darwinian can explain the great diversity of life on Earth. The origin of species and the descent of human beings are well understood.

Darwinism is silent on the question of life's first beginnings, however. This is not a hole or an omission; it represents no unfulfilled promise. The theory of evolution is not a theory of that.

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1:35pm

Fri February 8, 2013
Science

Researchers Point To The Demise of the Dinosaurs

Transcript

JOE PALCA, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Joe Palca.

You know the theory that a big collision, a comet or an asteroid, something like that, helped kill off the dinosaurs? The idea has been around for a while. But this week, new research published in journal Science provides more accurate dates for the giant impact and the dino demise.

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1:29pm

Fri February 8, 2013
Digital Life

Tracking Privacy and Ownership In An Online World

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 1:03 pm

Transcript

JOE PALCA, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY; I'm Joe Palca. Do you ever get the feeling you're being watched? These days if you're not careful, your phone knows where you are, and there's a good chance somebody else does, too. Or you've noticed that the ads on sites you visit are starting to look a little too personalized, like how did they know I was planning a vacation to New Orleans.

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1:16pm

Fri February 8, 2013
Technology

Automakers Drive Towards Hydrogen Cars

Toyota and BMW have formed an alliance to work on fuel cell cars. So have Daimler, Ford, and Nissan, with hopes of having cars on the road by 2017. But why now, and what obstacles still stand in the way? Jennifer Kurtz discusses the current state of hydrogen fuel technology.

3:35am

Fri February 8, 2013
Space

Close Shave: Asteroid To Buzz Earth Next Week

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 4:36 pm

This computer image from a NASA video shows the small asteroid 2012 DA14 on its path as it passes by Earth on Feb. 15.
NASA

An asteroid the size of an office building will zoom close by Earth next week, but it's not on a collision course, NASA says.

Still, some people think this near-miss should serve as a wake-up call.

"It's a warning shot across our bow that we are flying around the solar system in a shooting gallery," says Ed Lu, a former astronaut and head of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting humanity from asteroids.

The asteroid known as 2012 DA14 was first spotted last year by astronomers in Spain. It's thought to be about 150 feet across and made of rock.

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5:06pm

Thu February 7, 2013
Science

Blocking Iran With A Global Game Of Nuclear 'Keep Away'

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 7:27 pm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (center) visits a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, Iran, in 2008. Enriching uranium requires many fast-spinning centrifuges, arranged in what's called a cascade.
Iranian President's Office AP

Iran's government on Thursday made clear it has no interest in direct talks until the U.S. eases sanctions that have been squeezing Iran's economy. But the Obama administration isn't budging and says the ball is in the Iranians' court.

The suspicion that Iran wants to make a nuclear weapon is the rationale for the sanctions as well as for veiled threats of U.S. or Israeli military action if those sanctions fail.

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